Ezekiel 23 – Two Adulterous Sisters & Babylon Captivity: Housing and Furniture (5 of 11)

Just Standing e15390127642451 Bronze Age FurnitureThat furniture doesn’t look that comfortable, but I’m sure it was sturdy and long lasting.  For the wealthy it was The Ethan Allen of the Bronze Age and the cheaply made stuff for the poor would be Wal-Mart.

I’m not a doctor, but I’ve heard that furniture that’s too soft isn’t good for the body, but since they didn’t sit around and watch t.v. or play videos games all day they were probably in good shape.  Plus they didn’t have the power tools and things that we have so they didn’t have to go to the gym. 

And I’m sure they didn’t put chemicals in their food, so…

Ezekiel 23
Two Adulterous Sisters

2 Stool Stand for a Vase Head Rest or Pillow
“Stool”, “Stand for a Vase, Head Rest or Pillow”, “Workman’s Stool”, “Vase on a Stand”, “Folding Stool”, “Ebony Seat Inlaid with Ivory” (British Museum.)

1 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,

2 Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

3 And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

4 And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

“Aholah” – means “her tent.”

“Aholibah” – means “my tent is in her.”

Cf. the two sisters of Jer 3:6-12.  “Tent” could stand for Canaanite high places for the Lord’s tabernacle (except that Ezekiel never uses the word elsewhere for the legitimate shrine) or for Israel’s tent-dwelling origin.

5 And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbors,

“Played the harlot” – here represents political alliances with pagan powers – not idolatry as in chapter 16. 

The graphic language of the chapter underscores God’s and Ezekiel’s disgust with Israel for playing the worldly game of international politics rather than relying on the Lord for her security – as clear a case of religious prostitution, i.e., idolatry, as the Catholic Church has always done.

6 Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.

3 An Egyptian of High Rank Seated. B.C. 1500 1400. British Museum.
An Egyptian of High Rank Seated. B.C. 1500-1400. (British Museum.)

7 Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.

8 Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.

“From Egypt” – Israel’s entire history was marked by unfaithfulness.

9 Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted.

10 These discovered her nakedness: they took her sons and her daughters, and slew her with the sword: and she became famous among women; for they had executed judgment upon her.

“Discovered her nakedness” – a reference to eh fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 722-721 B.C.

11 And when her sister Aholibah saw this, she was more corrupt in her inordinate love than she, and in her whoredoms more than her sister in her whoredoms.

12 She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbors, captains and rulers clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men.

13 Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,

14 And that she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion,

4 An Egyptian Banquet. From a Wall Painting at Thebes.
An Egyptian Banquet. (From a Wall Painting at Thebes.)

“Men portrayed upon the wall” – arousal through pictures was even more perverted; vintage Playboy magazine.

15 Girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding in dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity:

“Girdles” – cf. Is 5:27 for similar Assyrian military equipment.

16 And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.

17 And the Babylonians came to her into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their whoredom, and she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated from them.

18 So she discovered her whoredoms, and discovered her nakedness: then my mind was alienated from her, like as my mind was alienated from her sister.

5 Chair with Captives As Supports and an Ivory Box. From Papyrus in British Museum.
Chair with Captives As Supports and an Ivory Box. (From Papyrus in British Museum.)

19 Yet she multiplied her whoredoms, in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, wherein she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt.

20 For she doted upon their paramours, whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue is like the issue of horses.

“Flesh” – probably referring to genitals.

21 Thus thou calledst to remembrance the lewdness of thy youth, in bruising thy teats by the Egyptians for the paps of thy youth.

22 Therefore, O Aholibah, thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will raise up thy lovers against thee, from whom thy mind is alienated, and I will bring them against thee on every side;

23 The Babylonians, and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, and Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: all of them desirable young men, captains and rulers, great lords and renowned, all of them riding upon horses.

“Babylonians…Chaldeans” – often identified with one another, here distinguished, probably because the Chaldeans were relative newcomers.

“Pekod” – Aramaic people located east of Babylon.

“Shoa, and Koa” – Babylonian allies of uncertain origin and location.

24 And they shall come against thee with chariots, wagons, and wheels, and with an assembly of people, which shall set against thee buckler and shield and helmet round about: and I will set judgment before them, and they shall judge thee according to their judgments.

6 Greek Bedstead with a Table. From an old Wall Painting.
Greek Bedstead with a Table. (From an old Wall Painting.)

25 And I will set my jealousy against thee, and they shall deal furiously with thee: they shall take away thy nose and thine ears; and thy remnant shall fall by the sword: they shall take thy sons and thy daughters; and thy residue shall be devoured by the fire.

26 They shall also strip thee out of thy clothes, and take away thy fair jewels.

27 Thus will I make thy lewdness to cease from thee, and thy whoredom brought from the land of Egypt: so that thou shalt not lift up thine eyes unto them, nor remember Egypt any more.

28 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will deliver thee into the hand of them whom thou hatest, into the hand of them from whom thy mind is alienated:

29 And they shall deal with thee hatefully, and shall take away all thy labor, and shall leave thee naked and bare: and the nakedness of thy whoredoms shall be discovered, both thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.

30 I will do these things unto thee, because thou hast gone a whoring after the heathen, and because thou art polluted with their idols.

7 Greek Furniture. From Antique Bas reliefs.
Greek Furniture. (From Antique Bas reliefs.)

 31 Thou hast walked in the way of thy sister; therefore will I give her cup into thine hand.

“Cup” – filled with the anger of the Lord.  To drink it was to die.  For a development of the imagery.

32 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou shalt drink of thy sister’s cup deep and large: thou shalt be laughed to scorn and had in derision; it containeth much.

33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.

34 Thou shalt even drink it and suck it out, and thou shalt break the sherds thereof, and pluck off thine own breasts: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.

35 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast forgotten me, and cast me behind thy back, therefore bear thou also thy lewdness and thy whoredoms.

36 The LORD said moreover unto me; Son of man, wilt thou judge Aholah and Aholibah? yea, declare unto them their abominations;

8 Roman State Chair. From the Marble example in the Musée du Louvre.
Roman State Chair. (From the Marble example in the Musée du Louvre.)

37 That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them.

38 Moreover this they have done unto me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths.

39 For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into my sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of mine house.

40 And furthermore, that ye have sent for men to come from far, unto whom a messenger was sent; and, lo, they came: for whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thy eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments,

“Ye have sent for men” – possibly a reference to the Jerusalem summit meeting in Zedekiah’s time.

“Paintedst thy eyes” – by daubing them with kohl, a soot-like compound to draw attention to the eyes.

41 And satest upon a stately bed, and a table prepared before it, whereupon thou hast set mine incense and mine oil.

“A stately bed, and table prepared before it” – ready for a banquet.

42 And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.

9 Roman Couch Generally of Bronze. From an Antique Bas relief.
Roman Couch, Generally of Bronze. (From an Antique Bas relief.)

 43 Then said I unto her that was old in adulteries, Will they now commit whoredoms with her, and she with them?

44 Yet they went in unto her, as they go in unto a woman that playeth the harlot: so went they in unto Aholah and unto Aholibah, the lewd women.

45 And the righteous men, they shall judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women that shed blood; because they are adulteresses, and blood is in their hands.

46 For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will bring up a company upon them, and will give them to be removed and spoiled.

47 And the company shall stone them with stones, and dispatch them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn up their houses with fire.

48 Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness.

49 And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.

Babylon Captivity: Housing and Furniture

To date archaeologists have paid little attention to the private houses of the Neo-Babylonian period (625-539 B.C.). And were they to do so, they would have problems in reconstructing an understanding of them because construction materials were extremely pulverable.

10 Floor plan of a Babylonian house
Floor plan of a Babylonian house of the more wealthy. The principal living room ranged from about 18 by 8 feet in the smallest house to 45 by 75 feet in the largest.

The information we have comes largely from the city of Babylon, where few Hebrews seem to have lived, but the basic style of architecture probably was similar elsewhere. A further limitation on our knowledge is that the houses of the poor and lower middle class were not so well built and have not survived as well as those of the more affluent.

Babylonians built houses of unbaked brick (usually a foot long and four inches thick), which, though it could easily crumble, would not be destroyed by the extremely low rainfall of the region.

Roofs and ceilings consisted of mud and tree branches supported by palm poles. From such a ceiling snakes or scorpions might and did fall on people and their beds below.  The Babylonians used various magical and practical treatments for scorpion sting,

As in the days of Abraham, houses consisted of rooms surrounding courtyards that were open to the sky. Light and air entered rooms only from the courtyard.  Houses were whitewashed inside and out.  One entrance led from the street and there were no windows in the outer walls.

Houses frequently had an upper story, especially in town. The thick mud brick walls did help to insulate against the intense heat of the region. Most streets were quite narrow, not much over 5 or 6 feet wide, and unpaved.

A moderate-sized house in the city of Babylon might measure some 40 by 60 feet and consist of a living room (30 by 10 feet), a courtyard (c. 20 feet square), and smaller rooms. The wealthy or administrators erected much larger houses.

The largest room in the house served as the living room and, with a table and chairs, doubled as a dining room. Located to the south of the courtyard, its entrance faced north, away from the sun.11 Babylon today

Kitchens and slave quarters lay to the north of the courtyard, with family bedrooms opening off the living room.  A doorkeeper had a room inside the entrance to the house.

Larger houses with more than one courtyard probably accommodated an extended family, such as a married son and his family.

Floors of the houses of the poor were normally of packed earth covered with reed matting.  Floors in the houses of the wealthy usually consisted of burnt brick set in bitumen and might be covered with wool rugs.

Furniture and Equipment

After the jewelry, some of the most exquisite objects remaining from the ancient Egyptian world are the furniture the people crafted and used.

12 Part of Assyrian Bronze Throne and Footstool
Part of Assyrian Bronze Throne and Footstool, about B.C. 880, Reign of Asshurnazirpat.

Chairs, beds, chests and stools were made not only for function but for beauty, as well, a beauty that reflected the philosophy of the ancient Egyptian mind of combining the best in human artistry while paying homage to the natural world.

A chair made of cedar from Lebanon with inlaid ivory pieces in the shape of lotus blossoms on the back of the seat, with the legs of the chair ending in the paws of a lion. A chair fitting this description now sits in the British Museum; three thousand years ago it sat in the home of an Egyptian nobleman.

Except for the reed seat, which has deteriorated, the chair looks as it did three millennia ago. Because most furniture was made from wood, which deteriorates over time, we don’t have as many furniture objects as we do other antiquities, such as jewelry and items made of stone or metal which last.

So much of our furniture information on ancient Egypt comes from paintings on funerary monuments, stele, coffins and tomb walls.

Furniture for people of at least moderate means included tables for eating, wooden chairs (often with a back and arms and rush seats), stools, wooden beds, and wooden storage chests.  Built-in mud brick benches have also been found in excavations.  Poorer people might sit on low pottery stools.

13 Assyrian Chair from KhorsabadAssyrian Chair from Khorsabad
Assyrian Chair from Khorsabad.
Assyrian Chair from Xanthus.
Assyrian Throne. (In the British Museum.)

Eating utensils included spoons normally made of bone or wood, knives of iron or bronze or copper, and single-pronged bone forks.  Plates, bowls, and cups were made of pottery, wood, stone, or metal.

Women usually prepared food on a pottery oven located in the courtyard of the house, but indoor hearths have been found.  And they used copper and bronze kettles and pans for cooking or frying foods during this period.

Torches or lamps provided artificial lighting. Torches consisted of bundles of reeds dipped in oil or bitumen. Lamps were small shoe-shaped pots of oil wick sticking out of a hole in the top. The oil burned in them usually came from sesame seed, but olive oil was also used.

Babylonians had a kind of soap made of ashes of certain plants mixed with fats.


…what kind of diet did they have?

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